Columbus, Ga., developer Mat Swift arrives this afternoon for a three-day visit to Greater Des Moines during which he will rally Greater Des Moines Partnership investors and others interested in developing a whitewater course along Des Moines’ two downtown rivers.

Swift, whose company owned substantial tracts along the Chattahoochee River, was one of the masterminds of a 2.5-mile whitewater course in Columbus — a market about half the size of Greater Des Moines — that brought zip lines, platform yoga, national paddleboard and kayak competitions, and hundreds of millions of dollars in new development. 

The whitewater course starts upstream and ends downtown. It draws 40,000 a year, with a $30 million to $35 million economic impact. Another 20,000 a year come to zip line. 

“A lot of people think of this as recreation, but it’s every bit as much about economic development,” Swift said in a pre-trip interview with the Business Record. That includes drawing, and keeping, workers, especially activity-minded millennials, he added. 

From what Swift sees, Greater Des Moines is even better positioned to score big on the proposed development, with three dams along the Des Moines and Raccoon rivers in play, versus the two in Columbus. Ours is a bigger market with more to offer upfront, Swift said. 

“Des Moines is incredibly blessed,” Swift said. “Y’all have been doing incredibly well on economic development, and you have the awards and statistics to back it up. This takes you over the top. This gives you an asset not many have. You have everything in place.” 

Continue reading for more on Swift’s support of the Greater Des Moines plans. Read more